***** Illegal Curve is no longer posting at this address. Visit us at our new location http://www.illegalcurve.com

Saturday, May 31, 2008



2:26 of the Third Period- Jiri Hudler scores his 5th goal of the postseason when Pittsburgh fails to clear the puck out of the defensive zone. Detroit takes a 2-1 lead early in the third period and silences the Mellon Arena Crowd.

Writer's Note: Pittsburgh really had that coming. They had two opportunities to clear the puck there and did a horrible job of getting the biscuit out of their end. Brooks Orpik shot the puck blindly around the boards as two Pens failed to get to the puck. Detroit has enough skilled forwards that will eat those types of turnovers for dinner.

4:08 of the Third Period- Pens goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury gets a delay of game penalty when he bats the puck over the glass.

Writer's Note: The Delay-of-Game penalty given to goalies who shoot the puck over the glass is so stupid IMHO. It is especially idiotic when the goalie is forced to play the puck out of the air in front of his net.

9:36 of the Third Period- Kirk Maltby takes a hooking penalty.

10:10 of the Third Period- Andreas Lilja takes an interference penalty.

Writer's Note: Pittsburgh gets a 5-on-3 here. This is a must-score situation for Pittsburgh.

Pens head coach Michel Therrien calls a time-out with 27 seconds left in Maltby's penalty.

Detroit kills off both penalties.

Writer's Note: WOW. So much pressure but very frustrating. Pittsburgh has a couple of decent shots but still fails to score a goal. That two-man advantage may be the turning point in the series.

15:40 into the Third period- M.-A Fleury makes a spectacular pad save on Wings forward Daniel Cleary.

3:16 Left in the Third Period- Brooks Orpik goes back to touch the puck for an icing touch-up. Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock calls a timeout.

Writer's Note: This is the series right here. Pittsburgh is all but done if they go back to Detroit down 3 games to 1. Malkin is on the ice still even though he has no points in this series.

A final flurry in the Wings zone but Pittsburgh fails to score.

The game ends. Detroit wins 2-1 and takes a commanding 3-1 series lead in the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals.

Writer's Post Game Analysis: Detroit wins Game 4 and makes it very difficult for Pittsburgh to come back and win their first Stanley Cup since 1992.... One clear observation: Pittsburgh did not play well with the man advantage tonight and struggled to gain possession in the Detroit zone. Defensemen Ryan Whitney and Sergei Gonchar (their best offensive blueliners) were not good catalysts on the PP and were consistently stood up at the blueline by defensive aces Draper, Maltby and Samuelsson..... Pittsburgh loses their first game in over two months at Mellon Arena and now has to deal with the fact that no team has come back from a 3-1 series deficit since 1975......

For Illegal Curve, I'm Ezra Ginsburg.

Ballhype: hype it up!


PERIOD 2....

0:40 into the Second Period- Mikael Samuelsson gets a weak shot on M-A Fleury to start the first period.

3:25 into the Second Period- Pens forward Pascal Dupuis gets a quality shot on net when he cuts into the middle and wrists a shot on Chris Osgood.

Writer's Note: Dupuis' scoring chance happened after an uncharacteristic turnover in the neutral zone by 5-time Norris Trophy Winner Nicklas Lidstrom.

3:44 into the Second Period- Jordan Staal takes an obstruction interference penalty.

Writer's Note: Not good for Pittsburgh for two reasons: they were playing well and Staal is one of their top penalty killers.

Pittsburgh does a great job of killing Staal's penalty and easily neutralized Detroit's Top 5 (minus the injured Holmstrom)

8:10 into the Second Period- Detroit has the fresh legs after the last power play. Datsyuk is looking especially good in the Pens zone. Also, Pens defenseman Brooks Orpik had two bodychecks on that last shift that were very effective.

Writer's Note: Orpik seems to be the only defenseman that seems to understand the importance of standing Detroit's skilled players up at the blueline. If you're wondering yourself why this is important, then look no further than the first period when the Wings were walking in and blasts 30 footers on Fleury (Samuelsson, Rafalski)

13:30 into the Second Period- Pascal Dupuis and Sidney Crosby both have great scoring chances in close on Osgood.

Writer's Note: Osgood made three great saves there as his defenseman clealry took an early intermission break.

16:04 into the Second Period- D-man Brian Ralaski takes a hooking penalty.

Writer's Note: This would be a great opportunity for Pittsburgh to get something going here on the power play as their previous two opportunities were pretty bad.

17:24 into the Second Period- The Penguins are still having problems activating their defensemen into the rush with the man advantage. Gonchar and Whitney just can't seem to move the puck up the ice with speedsters Crosby and Malkin.

19:37 into the Second Period- Rafalski coughs the puck up to Marian Hossa but he can't get a good shot on net as he does a spin-a-rama in front of Lidstrom.

Writer's Second Period Analysis: That period was a little sloppy. No goals and no sensational scoring chances. The Penguins get the slight shot advantage in the frame 8-7. I would give the period to Pittsburgh for their physical presence and offensive zone pressure. Pittsburgh failed to capitalize on several quality scoring chances and continue to be overly-fancy in the offensive zone. Detroit, on the other hand, was giving the puck up way too much....

For Illegal Curve, I'm Ezra Ginsburg.

Ballhype: hype it up!


10 minutes before Game 4... CBC's Ron MacLean interviews NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in another classic installment of the MacLean/Bettman Chronicles. MacLean grills Bettman on the economic state of the 24 American franchises and the NHL's future television deal with NBC...... CBC shows a Penguins/Red Wings video montage to the music of U2's "You Still Haven't Found What You're Looking for".... CBC's Don Cherry appears at his normal perch on the ice with a Pittsburgh Penguins glove puppet......


The National Anthem is about to be sung and the sold-out Mellon Arena crowd is loudly chanting "Go Pens Go..... A moment of silence is observed in honour of Luc Bourdon (Vancouver Canucks, Manitoba Moose), who passed away Thursday in a tragic motorcyle accident.... The well-dressed Jeff Jimerson sings the Star Spangled Banner and the game is mere minutes away......

** CBC's Scott Oake reported before the game that Tomas Holmstrom will not dress for the Red Wings tonight.

0:45 into the game- Wings defenseman Brian Rafalski walks in and blasts a hard, low slapshot that barely misses an outstretched Marc-Andre Fleury.

2:11 into the First Period- Dallas Drake takes a roughing penalty.

2:51 of the First Period- Marian Hossa scores his 10th goal of the playoffs when he takes a Sergei Gonchar rebound, shields the pucks and puts a nifty back-and-forth move and beats Osgood between the legs. Hossa's goal comes on the power play and is very important as Pittsburgh is 11-0 in the playoffs when they score the first goal.

Writer's Note: That was a beautiful goal. Hossa fooled everyone by making it seems like he was going to set up shop behind the net for a possible wrap-around or shot. Hossa has been the best player on Pittsburgh over the last two games, now with three points in the last four periods.

5:04 into the First Period- Crosby breaks his stick and as the Wings are buzzing in the Pittsburgh zone, Pens forward Pascal Dupuis take a cross-checking penalty.

7:06 into the First Period- Nicklas Lidstrom lets a howitzer go that goes over the right shoulder of Fleury. The goal is Lidstrom's third goal of the postseason and happens two seconds after Dupuis' penalty expires.

Writer's Note: CBC mentions that Lidstrom is a master at changing his body position to fool the goaltender on point shots and couldn't agree more. Lidstrom gives himself so much room on the point and using his athleticism and big wind-up to get high quality shots on net. Although the shot could have been stopped by Fleury, it was still a hard shot. Cleary provided a bit of a screen but in reality, the puck went straight in.

9:03 into the First Period- Brian Rafalski takes a roughing penalty.

Pittsburgh fails to score on the power play and fail to register any quality shots on Chris Osgood.

Writer's Note: That power play was so anti-climactic. Malkin spent a good 15 seconds floating around with the puck when he could have set something up. The Penguins need to get back into intense mode because that was a lackadaisacal power play.

13:39 into the First Period- Mikael Samuelsson has a great slapshot scoring chance on M-A. Fleury that is stopped easily.

14:28 into the First Period- Kris Draper takes a holding penalty when he puts the gorilla hug on Pens sophomore Jordan Staal.

Writer's Note: Draper needs to take it easy on Pittsburgh's younger players because Pittsburgh will eventually score if they get enough opportunities.

Pittsburgh fails to score on their third power play opportunity.

16:59 of the First Period- Coincidental penalties to Brett Lebda for cross-checking, and Maxime Talbot for diving.

Pascal Dupuis has a great scoring opportunity but is spun around and coughs the puck up to the Red Wings.

Writer's Note: Dupuis really bunged that one up. Is Dupuis upset that he was dropped from the Crosby's No.1 line or is he already thinking about going to see "Sex and The City: The Movie" with Georges Laraque. Either way, Dupuis had a lot of trouble with that rush.

First Period ends. Detroit 1 Pittsburgh 1.

Writer's 1st Period Notes: A very entertaining first frame. Detroit outshoots Pittsburgh 14-9 and kills off two penalties. Even though I hate to admit it, I would give the Red Wings the First Round decision. They had more energy and they responded well to Pittsburgh scoring the first goal. I thought Samuelsson and Datsyuk were especially impressive for the Wings. Rafalski led all shooters with three shots in the period....

For Illegal Curve, I'm Ezra Ginsburg.

Ballhype: hype it up!

TSN: The Treasonous Sports Network

In a move that can only be described as UN-CANADIAN, TSN has pre-empted tonight's episode of "That's Hockey" prior to a STANLEY CUP FINALS GAME, in order to cut back to a NASCAR RACE.

What was the concern? That Canada's 500 NASCAR fans (and if there are 500, probably only 200 have electricity and televisions) might miss a few left turns?

Then again, any move by TSN to reduce the amount of time Mike Milbury is on-air should probably be commended.....

Ballhype: hype it up!


Game 4 Notes..... The Penguins are 9-0 at the Mellon Arena since the playoffs started back in April.... The suspense surrounding Power Forward Tomas Holmstrom of the Detroit Red Wings and his injury will apparently continue right up until the puck drop of Game 4 as he will be a game-time decision. Holmstrom, who experienced groin problems in March, hurt himself when Pens defenseman Hal Gill can-openered him in Game 3..... Some Television-related numbers from Game 3.... NBC's Rating for Game 3 was 2.8 (the first network broadcast of the Finals)..... The total number of American viewers who tuned in Wednesay night was 4.46 million (last year's Stanley Cup Finals between the Ottawa Senators and Anaheim Ducks averaged 1.76 million viewers).... Television Ratings share in Detroit was 18.2 (really phenomenal, considering more people watched hockey than the NBA Eastern Conference Finals featuring the Detroit Pistons and Boston Celtics)... The Television Ratings share in Pittsburgh was a mind-boggling 33.1......... The Conn Smythe Trophy talk continues to heat up going into Game 4 of the Cup Finals with Henrik Zetterberg (12 goals, 11 assists, 23 points) and Sidney Crosby (6 goals, 17 assists, 23 points) getting the majority of the votes. I personally believe Pavel Datsyuk (9 goals, 10 assists, 19 points), Marian Hossa (9 goals, 12 assists, 21 points), Johan Franzen (13 goals, 4 assists, 17 points) and Chris Osgood (12-2, 1.48 GAA, 3 shutouts) would make strong cases for the crown as well... "NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman issued a statement yesterday from Pittsburgh saying a moment of silence will be observed Saturday prior to Game 4"(source: The Canadian Press)... The moment of silence will be in memory of Vancouver Canucks/Manitoba Moose defenseman Luc Bourdon (Shippagan, New Brunswick), who passed away Thursday in a motorcycle accident....

For Illegal Curve, I'm Ezra Ginsburg.

Ballhype: hype it up!


IllegalCurve.com and myself, The Potato Chip King Ezra Ginsburg, bring you every goal, hit and punch tonight from Game 4 of the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals between the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins (8:00 p.m. E.T, CBC, NBC) in our Live period-by-period blog.

Stay tuned to Illegal Curve tonight as I give you the armchair defensemen's perspective on what promises to be one of the best hockey games of the season.

For Illegal Curve, I'm Ezra Ginsburg.

Ballhype: hype it up!

News you can use

In this article, Globe and mail columnist/preacher Stephen Brunt discusses the abject failure that Gary Bettman has been. Not that this is a surprise to our dedicated readers, but still it's nice to see that my rantings against Bettman have not fallen on deaf ears. (Note: My tongue is planted firmly in cheek) Now if we can just get more NHL articles written in the newspapers that service the Tri-State area. Wink, wink.

For Illegal curve, I am Andrew M.

Ballhype: hype it up!

Emery should be watching Finals closely

From Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun:

"Once the series between the Red Wings and Penguins ends, the clock will start ticking on his career with the Senators as GM Bryan Murray has the option of buying out Emery within 48 hours after the final ends."

Here is the full article from the Ottawa Sun.

Garrioch mentions the slight possibility of a trade, however, I don't see any team making a deal for a player that they could sign without compensation only a few days later. Make no mistake, if the Senators cannot deal Emery before the Finals are over, he will almost certainly be bought-out within 48 hours.

Ballhype: hype it up!

Is Blake Wheeler setting a precedent?

From David Staples of the Edmonton Journal:

"This clause has huge implications for the Oilers in that three of their most cherished prospects, defencemen Tayler Chorney and Jeff Petry and forward Riley Nash are all U.S. college players. All could decide to turn pro, wait 30 days, then become unrestricted free agents."

Here is the entire entry from Cult of Hockey.

David Staples always writes about interesting hockey situations and this is no exception. With Blake Wheeler's recent decision to not sign with the Coyotes and instead opt for UFA status, Staples wonders whether some of the Oilers' youngsters might do the same. While this is purely speculation, the entry is well-written and gets you thinking.

Ballhype: hype it up!

Melrose not a done-deal

From Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune:

"This is also what I was able to surmise from conversations last night. Barry Melrose is not a done deal. No definitive offers have been made to anybody and the team is still talking to other candidates. And to clarify one other thing, no deal with Melrose, or anybody else for that matter, can be done anytime soon, and certainly not in the next couple of days. Oren Koules and his group were told by the executive board of the NHL the other day that the only issues that can be dealt with right now are those of a time sensitive manner. A head coach, is not a time sensitive matter. Nothing can be done until the board of governors meeting on June 17 in New York. So even if a deal was in place, it certainly couldn’t be announced."

Here is the full entry from Bolts Report.

Erlendsson is as close to the Lightning organization as you are going to get, so I take his word on all that he said. I agree with just about everything he wrote regarding Tortorella who is reported to be out as head coach even though the replacement has not yet officially been chosen. I am sure Erlendsson will continue to keep us updated on this situation.

Ballhype: hype it up!

A look at the Oilers heading into the off-season

From Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch:

"Otherwise, GM Kevin Lowe should be commended for the way he’s run this show. Yes, he took a beating from many of his colleagues throughout the NHL, but look at what’s left after the dust settled.

The Oilers have loads of potential. They’ll have $8M to $10M to spend on free agents this summer."

Here is the full analysis of the Oilers from Puck-Rakers.

Portzline provides readers with a fair amount of information on a team that he does not cover exclusively. I do not agree with him that they "need" to re-sign Pitkanen and Stoll, because I could see them trading those players and getting something (a scoring winger?) much needed in return. Nonetheless, Portzline nails the most important point when he states that for all of the criticism Kevin Lowe received late last summer, his team looks pretty, pretty, pretty good heading into the 2008/09 season and beyond.

Ballhype: hype it up!

Dave Tippet yet to sign his extension

From Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News:

"The Dallas Stars confirmed a forthcoming three-year contract extension for coach Dave Tippett on May 23, but the papers have not been signed. The problem is not in the agreement, but in the details, said Stars co-general manager Les Jackson."

Here is the short entry from the Dallas Morning News.

The deal is clearly going to get done, however, this delay does underscore the importance of contract language.

Ballhype: hype it up!

NHL Morning Papers: Stanley Cup Finals Edition (Saturday)

Here are the morning papers for the Stanley Cup Finals which resume tonight at the Mellon Arena...

Detroit Red Wings (1) versus Pittsburgh Penguins (2):

For Illegal Curve, I'm Richard Pollock.

Email any thoughts, ideas or suggestions to illegalcuve@gmail.com

Ballhype: hype it up!

Friday, May 30, 2008


- According to The Sports Network, Rogers Sportsnet and The Score, The Edmonton Oilers have signed Czech Republic native Josef Hrabal (2003, 11/248) to a two-year entry-level contract.

- TSN and The Score also reported earlier this afternoon that the Calgary Flames signed 2006 4th round draft pick Hugo Carpentier.

For Illegal Curve, I'm Ezra Ginsburg.

Ballhype: hype it up!


Newjerseydevils.com and The Score are reporting that the New Jersey Devils have signed defenseman Anssi Salmela, 23, to a pro contract. Terms of the deal were not disclosed after the announcement was made by Devils President/General Manager Lou Lamoriello. Salmela, who was not orginally drafted by an NHL club, scored 16 goals and 16 assists in 56 games for Tappara of the Finnish League during the 2007'08 season.

Writer's Note: Even though I am a devoted Devils fan, I know about as much about this guy as someone who has access to High-Speed Internet and Hockeydb.com. One thing I do know however is that the Finnish League is one of the top professional leagues in Europe, possibly only 2nd to the Russian Super League and has been getting better and better since the lockout season of 2004'05. The fact that Salmela put up 32 points in 56 games this past season means that he has an offensive upside that has tickled some of New Jersey's Pro Scouts. New Jersey struggled to get offense from their defensemen last season (Paul Martin led the team with 32 points) and the rumour is that Lamoriello won't bring back disappointing UFA acquisition Karel Rachunek next season.

For Illegal Curve, I'm Ezra Ginsburg.

Ballhype: hype it up!

News You Can Use

Ballhype: hype it up!

The return of the mullet

TSN: "The Toronto Star reports that ESPN hockey analyst and former Los Angeles Kings head coach Barry Melrose is set to return behind the bench for the Tampa Bay Lightning."

Here is the write-up courtesy of TSN.

This is sure to garner attention throughout the hockey world. I am not sure what kind of a coach Melrose will be, since he has been out of the coaching game for over ten years; however, I do know that I was quite a big fan of John Tortorella. He is a terrific coach, and while he may be abrasive at times, he got the most out of his players. As much as people seem interested in Melrose's return, I am more interested to see where Tortorella gets hired and how soon that will be. Ottawa anyone???

Ballhype: hype it up!

Getting to know Steven Stamkos

From Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune:

"As far as Stamkos goes, he certainly seems like one of the nicest high-profile teenagers you might ever meet. Spent just over two hours at the family house outside of Toronto and had some great conversations. Very humble family and you can see how that has carried over to Steven. Despite all the heavy marketing the Lightning have already done with Stamkos, they still answer everything with 'if Tampa Bay drafts'."

Here is the full entry from Bolts Report.

By all accounts, the Lightning are not only getting an extraordinarily talented hockey player, but also a very polite and grounded young man. The organization has to be doing cartwheels over landing the number one overall selection.

Ballhype: hype it up!

Blake Wheeler to be a UFA

From Dave Vest of the Arizona Republic:

"I'm actually quite stunned," Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney said Thursday. "Quite frankly, we made him an offer significantly better than any other contract he can get (right now). But that's his choice. I think (he's received) bad advice, and I think he's making a big mistake because of the commitment we've made to our young players and the young players we're prepared to invest in."

Here is the
entire article courtesy of the Arizona Republic.

It appears that Wheeler wants to write his own ticket and choose his own NHL destination. While he obviously holds that right, I wonder why he would not want to join an up-and-coming Coyotes squad which has a ton of young offensive talent. Joining the like of Kyle Turris, Martin Hanzal and Peter Meuller would be appealing to most young players.

Ballhype: hype it up!

Canadian teams make money for the NHL

From Rick Westhead of the Toronto Star:

"A secret NHL report detailing the ticket revenues of its 30 teams reveals what Canadian hockey fans have long suspected and offers a compelling case for putting more teams north of the border."

Here is the entire article from this morning's Toronto Star.

The article basically calls for expansion or relocation of a NHL team to Canada. I, for one, am completely in favor of such a proposition. Canadians live and breathe hockey, and this report clearly shows the game is flourishing north of the border. I am sure our Winnipeg readers enjoy the comment from NHLPA head man Paul Kelly that can be found half-way through the article.

Ballhype: hype it up!

The CBC shuns Crosby

William Houston:

"The show's grudge against Crosby has gone well beyond ridiculous. Yes, host Ron MacLean interviewed him last Saturday, but the show's most influential commentator, Don Cherry, doesn't like him. And MacLean certainly defers to his elder."

Here is the full article courtesy of the Globe & Mail.

I have to be honest, I have not recognized any bias against Sidney Crosby by the CBC. Now, this may very well be the case, and Houston sure makes a compelling argument, but I just focus on the game itself and if some of the commentators believe Gary Roberts is playing an important role in the game, I am of the assumption that Sidney Crosby's importance is implied. Apparently Houston thinks otherwise.

Ballhype: hype it up!

NHL Morning Papers: Stanley Cup Finals Edition (Friday)

Here are the NHL morning papers for the Stanley Cup Finals which resume tomorrow night...

Detroit Red Wings (1) versus Pittsburgh Penguins (2):

For Illegal Curve, I'm Richard Pollock.

Email any thoughts, ideas or suggestions to illegalcurve@gmail.com

Ballhype: hype it up!

News You Can Use

  • Check out the SCF blogs of Chris Pronger and Jason Arnott.
  • An update on the NHL Scouting Combine, currently underway in Toronto. Note that TSN incorrectly labels John Carlson a high-schooler. He plays for Indiana in the USHL. See the Prospect Pulse from Tuesday for more information.
  • More on the Scouting Combine from prospect Jimmy Hayes.
  • The NY Daily News is reporting that the outdoor game at Wrigley is not a done deal, and a Rangers-Bruins game at Yankee Stadium is still a possibility.
  • A word from...Sidney Crosby's beard?

Ballhype: hype it up!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Doug Armstrong to join the Blues

Jeremy Rutherford: "Armstrong's title with the Blues hasn't been announced, but he reportedly will have some general manager and player personnel duties."

Here is the short piece from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Armstrong is certainly capable and should add another strong hockey mind to an already very well structured organization.

Ballhype: hype it up!

Red Wings beat out Pistons in Detroit ratings battle

Detroit Free Press: "Pittsburgh's 3-2 win on Wednesday night earned a 2.8 national rating and an 18.2 rating in Detroit, beating out the 15.9 rating for the Pistons' matchup with the Boston Celtics."

Here is the short article courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

Great news for the NHL. Being able to beat out the Pistons in the Detroit market is a good sign; especially considering they are playing the Celtics. The NHL must be hoping for a Game 7...

Ballhype: hype it up!

News You Can Use

  • Jim Boone thinks the NHL needs to give fans a voice.
  • Top 10 #10 picks.
  • Adam Proteau with a list of jobs that he thinks NHL clubs should create.
  • Who does hockey belong to?
  • Was Game 3 the best SCF game in years?

Ballhype: hype it up!

Breaking News

Vancouver Canucks/Manitoba Moose defenceman Luc Bourdon has been killed today in a motorcycle accident in New Brunswick. He was a 10th overall pick of the Canucks in 2005.

Ballhype: hype it up!

News You Can Use

Ballhype: hype it up!

Odds are that Forsberg will retire

Adrian Dater of the Denver Post:

"A knowledgeable Swedish source told me that during the Western playoff series between the Avs and Red Wings, the Avs flew in Peter Forsberg’s doctor who performed his last surgery and really grilled him hard on his troublesome right ankle’s condition, and that even after the series, there was a lot of discussion between him and the team about his future playing prospects."

"There’s no word on what Foppa is thinking right now, but the betting line continues to be that he’ll retire. But I wouldn’t say it’s a huge betting line. Probably 65-35."

Here is the full article from All Things Avs.

This does not come as much of a surprise. Granted, I am one of Forsberg's biggest fans and when he did play last season, even limping a bit, he was still arguably a top 20 NHL player. If he can get his ankle in better shape come next fall, I would not be shocked to see him return. That being said, if his ankle was so bad during the playoffs, where we all know he would have done anything to play, the odds of 65-35 are probably fitting.

Ballhype: hype it up!

Television ratings are much improved in United States

Philadelphia Daily News: "The combination of Games 1 and 2 made this the highest-rated and most-watched opening two games of the finals since Detroit faced Carolina in 2002. Versus' combined ratings went up 273 percent from last year when Anaheim played Ottawa and 181 percent from the Carolina-Edmonton matchup in 2006."

Here is the entire article courtesy of the Philadelphia Daily News.

This is great news for the NHL and the ratings can only be rising after last night's tremendous and exciting Game 3. Moreover, last night's game was on NBC which has a wider national audience than Versus. I would expect the highest television rating for a Stanley Cup Finals game this decade if the series goes six games.

Ballhype: hype it up!

Rangers ordered to pay up signing bonuses

Larry Brooks of the NY Post: "Perhaps the most dishonorable episode in recent Rangers' history was settled yesterday when arbitrator Richard Bloch ruled that the New York Rangers must indeed pay Bobby Holik and Jed Ortmeyer their respective signing bonuses the team withheld during and after the 2004-05 NHL lockout."

Here the entire article courtesy of the NY Post.

The article notes that the Rangers were the only team during the lockout to not pay up signing bonuses. I really don't understand why the Rangers went to all this trouble to withhold the bonus money from these two players. Never mind the fact that they spent time and money on legal proceedings. It appears the Rangers would have been far better off just paying these bonuses a long time ago and moving on.

Ballhype: hype it up!

Insurance risk is now on the public

Dave Christensen of the Miami Herald: "If a hurricane destroys the BankAtlantic Center, home of hockey's Florida Panthers, Broward taxpayers will be on the hook for any damage over $150 million because the arena is underinsured."

Here is the full article courtesy of the Miami Herald.

Just one thought: Why should the public be on the hook for damage to an arena they never attend?

Ballhype: hype it up!

NHL Morning Papers: Stanley Cup Finals Edition (Thursday)

Here are the morning papers for the Stanley Cup Finals which resume at 8pm EST on Saturday night...

Detroit Red Wings (1) versus Pittsburgh Penguins (2):

For Illegal Curve, I'm Richard Pollock.

Email any thoughts, ideas or suggestions to illegalcurve@gmail.com

Ballhype: hype it up!

News You Can Use

  • A look at Australia's recent win at the World Championships.
  • Memorial Cup History: 1958 and 1959
  • The Leafs, Canadiens and Red Wings may all be options for Mats Sundin next season.
  • The Red Wings and Blackhawks will tangle next winter at Wrigley Field.
  • A look at ECHL hockey in Las Vegas.

Ballhype: hype it up!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008



16:21 to go in the Third Period- A flurry of Penguins shots including Marian Hossa hitting the post.

14:30 remaining - Detroit is controlling the play and putting all of the pressure on Pittsburgh.

13:00 remaining- 2 huge hits in a row by Pittsburgh on Detroit players Andreas Lilja and Kirk Maltby.

12:52 to go in the Third Period- Adam Hall SCORES. A huge scramble around the net sees Hall bang the puck past Osgood giving Pittsburgh a stranglehood on this game with just over ten minutes to play. The goal is Halls' 2nd of the postseason.

11:43 to go in the Third Period- An UNBELIEVABLE save by Fleury. Grand Theft Auto perpetrated by Fleury on Holmstrom.

10:45 remaining- The game has opened up for the first time all series. End to end action and bodies are flying everywhere with Pittsburgh hitting everything and everyone remotely associated with the State of Michigan.

8:58 left in the Third Period- As Bob Cole just said, can you believe this pace folks? And frankly I can't. This is what the NHL has been hoping and praying for since Pittsburgh and Detroit punched their tickets for the Cup Finals.

6:23 Left in the Third Period- Mikael Samuelsson scores on a harmless looking shot that changes direction when Pens defenseman Brooks Orpik gets a stick on the shot (A Don Cherry no-no) thus confusing Goalie Marc Andre Fleury, who was back deep in his net. The goal is Samuelsson's 5th of the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Writer's Note: The Wings Filppula and Samuelsson did a great job of cycling the puck on that sequence but Fleury should have had this one. He appeared to be too far back in his net and the fact that Orpik tipped that at the last minute didn't help at all.

4:18 Left in the Third Period- Evgeni Malkin takes a hooking penalty.

Writer's Note: The Illegal Curve team continues to seach for answers regarding Evgeni Malkin's religious affiliation. The hot rumour on the World Wide Web is that Malkin wears a necklace with a Magen David (Star of David). Illegal Curve Religion Correspondent Neil Rockman, a proud Jew, continues to pursue the story.

1:45 left in the Third Period- Detroit is all over Pittsburgh in their own end. The Wings have really exploded after Samuelsson's goal.

After a final flurry in the last minute, which mainly saw Detroit keeping the puck in the Pens zone without many quality scoring chances, the Pens hurriedly clear the puck down the ice and the game ends.

The PartyPoker.net Three Stars of the Game:

*Sidney Crosby
**Marc-Andre Fleury
***Niklas Kronvall

For Illegal Curve, I'm Ezra Ginsburg.

Writer's Post-Game Analysis: Game 3 was by far the most exciting and well-played game of the series. This game had fans all across North America on the edge of their seats because of it's intensity and grit. This game was exactly what the National Hockey League and it's fans needed. More than three goals and ultra-competitive. Perfect. That's what the Stanley Cup Finals is all about. Pittsburgh has now made the '08 Finals a series and can really build on that second period. However, Detroit outshot Pittsburgh 34-24 and was especially sharp in the last half of the Third Period.
The Zetterberg-Datsyuk-Holmstrom line was clearly the best one on the ice and played extremely well despite the loss. Game 4 goes Saturday Night in Pittsburgh...

For Illegal Curve, I'm Ezra Ginsburg.

Ballhype: hype it up!



With Defenseman Brian Rafalski still in the sin bin, Pittsburgh starts the second period with a man advantage.

0:20 into the Second Period- Sidney Crosby explodes off the half boards, and wrists a hard shot off the crossbar.

2:02 of the Second Period- Kronvall receievs a hooking penalty when he ties up Ryan Malone behind the net.

2:10 of the Second Period- Petr Sykora has a quality shot on net but there is no rebound available to any Penguins when Osgood plays the puck efficiently and the puck is cleared down the ice.

2:34 into the Second Period- Sidney Crosby buries his second goal of the game (6th of the playoffs) on a rebound shot from Marian Hossa. That goal was the result of speed and driving hard to the net. The Penguins exploded in triangular form and buried the rebound, off an excellent first shot.

Writer's Note: Who do I think I am? Pierre McGuire (of TSN and NBC)?

4:10 into the Second Period - Crosby is hammered so hard he does a back flip when Wings forward Kris Draper lays a low hip at the blueline.

7:00 in the Second Period- For the first time in the series, Pittsburgh has absolute control of this game. FINALLY.

8:54 into the Second Period- Hal Gill takes a cross-checking penalty.

11:40 into the Second Period- CBC's Scott Oake interviews Alexander Ovechkin.

Writer's Note: Has Alexander Ovechkin been shopping with Sean Avery, intern for Vogue Magazine? I must say, Ovechkin is looking sharp and fresh tonight. Whether that suit is Armani or Zegna, Ovie is styling tonight.

12:57 of the Second Period- Hal Gill takes a cross-checking penalty on Tomas Holmstrom.

Writer's Note: This penalty kill should be no problem for Pittsburgh. They have done an excellent job down a man thus far tonight. Jordan Staal (7 shorthanded goals in 2006'07 regular season) is always effective.

14:48 of the Second Period- Johan Franzen (Landsbro, Sweden) scores his 13th goal of the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs on a beautiful individual effort. The goal comes with only seconds left in Gill's minor penalty and was quite simply a highlight-reel goal.

Writer's Note: Was that Johan Franzen or Alexei Zhamnov? Wow. That goal was exciting to watch. And I'm cheering for Pittsburgh too. Franzen went around three Pittsburgh Penguins on his way to the goal and stuffed it short-side on M.A. Fleury. The Mule has another goal, his league-leading 13th of the postseason.

*** Second Period Ends.... Pittsburgh outshoots Detroit 13-9 in the Second Period and has an overall 19-18 Shots advantage.

Writer's Analysis: This game is by far the best of the series so far, mainly because Pittsburgh seems to have awaken from a late May sleep. Pittsburgh played extraordinarily in the middle frame and really deserved a bigger lead than one goal...

Stay Tuned for Period 3.....

For Illegal Curve, I'm Ezra Ginsburg...

Ballhype: hype it up!



- Hockey Hall of Famer Scotty Bowman drops the puck at Center Ice and the start of Game 3 is minutes away.

0:15 into the First Period- Detroit's Top 5 (Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Holmstrom, Lidstrom, Rafalski) starts the game with more jump than Tyler Kennedy's line.

1:04 into the First Peiod- An obstruction holding penalty is called on Johan Franzen, as his back check on Pens forward Marian Hossa is a tad over-zealous.

1:39 into the First Period- 35 seconds into the power play, Ryan Malone has a great chance to score when he moves in on Osgood and finesses a half-decent forehand shot that is thwarted into the corner. Malone has another great chance to score when he one-times a shot in the slot.

3:05 into the First Period- Jordan Staal takes a holding penalty that looks like something you would see in an instructional video for NHL officials. He puts his arm around the Detroit player and clearly impeded his progress in the neutral zone. Not a very good penalty to take.

Writer's Note: Pittsburgh had some excellent scoring chances on their first power play and appeared to be on the verge of more pressure. Pittsburgh really needed a good start to this game and they must kill this penalty off quickly so they can sustain more pressure in their home rink.

6:59 into the First Period- After killing off Staal's penalty, Detroit continues to control the pace of the game by using their speed and smarts.

Niklas Lidstrom turns the puck over in the Detroit zone to Sidney Crosby but the Penguins fail to get a clear shot on net when they get too fancy.

Wings Super-Grinder Tomas Holmstrom wires a hard slap shot on Marc-Andre Fleury which he stops handily.

Writer's Note: The Penguins defensemen need to do a better shop of standing the Wings up at the blueline, because their modus operandi is clearly to get as many rebounds as possible. If the Pens continue to let Detroit's speedy forwards walk in over the blueline, someone will eventually get a juicy rebound. You cannot give players like Datsyuk, Holmstrom and Franzen the autonomy to walk in and fire 30-foot slappers. This is where Darryl Sydor and his Stanley Cup experience come into play.

CBC shows Lays spokesman Mark Messier and NHL Scoring Champion Alexander Ovechkin
9:15 into the Period -Press box. Messier and Ovechkin appear to be more interested in who's texting their Blackberry than Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

11:00 into the First Period- The Red Wings are shooting from all over the ice at Marc-Andre Fleury as they continue to frustrate the scrambly hometown Penguins.

12:07 into the First Period- Sergei Gonchar takes a tripping penalty.

Writer's Note: The Penguins have one shot on net. I repeat. The Penguins have ONE SHOT on net. Is Pittsburgh for real? Are they purposely trying to play like the 1980'81 Winnipeg Jets?

16:10 into the First Period- Marian Hoosa registers Pittsburgh's second shot on net, after he tips a Sergei Gonchar point shot.

17:25 into the First Period- Pittsburgh breaks the scoreless draw when Brad Stuart coughs the puck up to Sidney Crosby after his clearing pass hits the back of Henrik Zetterbeg's skate. Crosby takes the puck, drops it to Hossa, then takes the return feed off of a Detroit skate and buries his 5th goal past Chris Osgood. A nice goal, which always looks better when it comes off the stick of Sid the Kid.

Writer's Note: Crosby's goal was a true double-whammy as he pops his personal Stanley Cup Finals cherry and the team's as well. It is nice to see the Crosby show back on air. It is about time.

19:19 of the First Period- Former New Jersey Devils Defenseman Brian Rafalski takes a minor tripping penalty.

19:53 of the First Period- Marian Hossa misses the net on a one-timer and the Penguins end the period with pressure and on a high note.

Writer's Note: Wow. Hossa had a great opportunity to put the Pens up by 2 on a beautiful feed from Malone. Hossa still hasn't found his comfort zone. Don't look now but Hossa and Crosby are really clicking together.

First Period Notes: The Wings outshoot the Penguins 9-6 in the period.....

Please stay tuned for Period 2......

For Illegal Curve, I'm Ezra Ginsburg.

Ballhype: hype it up!


Game Notes...... The Penguins are 8-0 at the Mellon Arena during the 2008 Playoffs.....Red Wings Sniper Pavel Datsyuk has 46 hits in these 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs, more than any other player in the league. Datsyuk has shown a lot of grit this postseason, including Game 2 when he went after Ryan Malone after a perceived late hit on Henrik Zetterberg.... CBC's Elliotte Friedman reported earlier today that Penguins Head Coach Michel Therrien will dress two-time Stanley Cup Winner Darryl Sydor tonight, even though he hasn't played in a game in over two months. Therrien is clearly hoping that Sydor will help playoff neophytes Ryan Whitney and Brooks Orpik in their own zone. Rookie Kris Letang will be scratched in favour of Sydor.... Wings goaltender Chris Osgood is 12-2 in the 2008 Playoffs with a Goals Against Average of 1.38, a Save Percentage of 0.939 and three shutouts. He may not face as many shots as other goalies but these numbers must be recognized by those deciding who is awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy.....The Penguins played much chippier in Game 2 than the first game of the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals. Pittsburgh took a mind-boggling 16 penalties Monday night, including eight roughing minors, whereas the more-disciplined Red Wings were only guilty of eight total infractions....

Ballhype: hype it up!


IllegalCurve.com continues it's comprehensive coverage of the 2008 NHL Stanley Cup Finals tonight with a Live period-by-period blog of Game 3 between the Detroit Red Wings and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

After losing the first two games of the series in Detroit, the Pittsburgh Penguins are looking to get back on the winning track tonight (8:00 p.m. E.T.) when they welcome the Wings to the not-so-friendly confines of the noisy Mellon Arena. The Penguins have not scored a goal so far in this series are looking to silence the scribes who have already began to prematurely declare these Finals over.

Stay tuned to Illegal Curve tonight and for the rest of the '08 Stanley Cup Finals for the best hockey coverage on the Internet.

For Illegal Curve, I'm Ezra Ginsburg.

Ballhype: hype it up!

Prospect Pulse: Catching up

With a somewhat busy schedule, I was unable to see as many junior/midget as I would have liked this year. That being said, I was still fortunate enough to see a number of draft eligible prospects in the winter and spring. I will post brief reports on the players I saw over the next few days.

John Carlson - D (Indiana Ice, USHL) - Carlson, rated 17th for North American skaters by Central Scouting, is a big defender (6'2, 215) who possesses a heavy shot. Some scouts have knocked his skating ability, but he doesn't appear to have any serious defects in that area. He gets where he needs to go and positions himself well. I see him as a more offensive type, as he put up good numbers (12-31-43) in Indiana and was able to effectively move the puck on the power play.

Nick Larson - LW - (Waterloo Blackhawks, USHL) - I only saw Larson play a couple times, but was impressed both times. Most recently, he was scoring the overtime winner in Game 1 of the Clark Cup finals versus Omaha. He put up respectable numbers during the regular season (19-19-36) and will likely continue to improve as he has good offensive skills. What I liked most about him was that he won't quit. He works hard every shift and is tenacious on the puck. He is willing to fight for room on the ice and has a quick release shot that he can use from anywhere. Its my feeling that this will make him a dangerous scorer going forward.

Ballhype: hype it up!

News You Can Use

  • Kristen Bell wants to take a sponge bath in the Stanley Cup.
  • Check out the latest installment of Ryan Miller's blog.
  • A little Stanley Cup trivia.
  • A variety of rumours from Spector.
  • Scott Burnside is a little miffed that Mario Lemieux has been unavailable to the media.

Ballhype: hype it up!

News You Can Use

  • Gord Kirke says the Leafs will try to emulate the Red Wings' team building model.
  • Bob McKenzie says its up to Gino Malkin to turn the tide of the series.
  • An arbitrator has ruled that the Rangers must pay Bobby Holik and Jed Ortmeyer the money remaining on their respective contracts.
  • Memorial Cup History: 1957 and 1958.
  • Maxim Magazine covers the Stanley Cup.

Ballhype: hype it up!

The Leafs still want Burke

From Mark Zwolinkski: "The long-standing belief is that Burke is the Leafs' target for president and GM, but they will go through proper channels to land him, even if it takes a year, or a month. Until then, Fletcher remains in control, and will guide the club through the draft, trades, buyouts, free agency and the hiring of a new coach if need be."

Here is the full article courtesy of the Toronto Star.

Apparently the Leafs are looking to form a super management team that could have many different people working together as the Leafs' GM/President. Their main focus appears to be Burke, but the organization has interviewed Dave Nonis and also have reported interest in Doug Armstrong. In my opinion, the Leafs should leave the staff hiring to the new GM, instead of naming his support staff beforehand.

Ballhype: hype it up!

Negotiations with Pascal Leclaire just beginning

Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch: "Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson yesterday refuted weekend reports out of Canada that contract negotiations were not going very well with restricted free agent goaltender Pascal Leclaire."

Here is the full article courtesy of the Columbus Dispatch.

I really don't see these two sides not coming to some sort of agreement. Leclaire was terrific last season and really flourished under coach Hitchcock's defense-first system. Scott Howson is a sharp GM and I'm sure the sides will end up agreeing on a three or four year contract.

Ballhype: hype it up!

NHL Morning Papers: Stanley Cup Finals Edition (Wednesday)

Here are the morning papers for the Stanley Cup Finals which continue tonight at 8pm EST:

Detroit Red Wings (1) versus Pittsburgh Penguins (2):

For Illegal Curve, I'm Richard Pollock.

Email any thoughts, ideas or suggestions to illegalcurve@gmail.com

Ballhype: hype it up!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

News You Can Use

Ballhype: hype it up!

News You Can Use

Ballhype: hype it up!